We are the champions. The Cubs are the champions.

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To know why a Cubs win can elicit fireworks on a Wednesday night and grandparents giggling and strangers hugging on the moonlit streets of Chicago, Illinois, you have to first know what broke those people. Mine was Game 7, 2003. I couldn’t drink after that game. I was in college and I was too sad to drink.

I called my parents on my walk home that night and kept muttering variations of “I thought they’d do it. I really thought they’d do it.” My mother comforted me. Then my father took the phone, heard me out, and said:

“Just wait till it gets bad.” Read More

The Wire Season 4: Marlo Stanfield, Baltimore’s serial killer

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The genius of the character of Marlo Stanfield is that a textless, bold-colored headband came to feel too flashy.

He opened without one, an intro so perfect yet under the radar because the scene is about Bubbles, not this unnamed, previously unknown character whose first appearance departing a building is teamed with the sound of a bird chirping, as if Marlo is a hawk fledging from his nest and preparing to hunt the people of Baltimore like squirrels.

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This one’s for Cleveland.

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I’ve never felt thrilled for another city’s fans. Not like this.

That is nearly the exact same intro I used for my column May 14, 2010, the day after the Cleveland Cavaliers were eliminated by the Boston Celtics — AKA the final game LeBron played as a member of the Cavs until his return last year.

You’ll notice, though, that it’s not EXACTLY the same intro. We’ve got one key word that’s different. Forget “ill.” Add “thrilled.” Read More

How The GOAT Was Built: 6 Life Lessons From the 1996 Chicago Bulls

GOAT cover (book by Jack Silverstein, design by Zachary Gibson, Bag Fry)

Way back in October, back when the Bulls’ record of 72 wins was safe, I began an essay about the 12 moves the Bulls made between June 1993 and October 1995 that turned an aged, bickering, 57-win champion into a flourishing, rejuvenated, 72-win juggernaut.

Seven months later, I have a 13,000-word e-book and have spent more time reading about and watching clips of the 1995-96 Bulls than any time other than 1995-96. I’ll save you the suspense: It’s been a sweet 7 months!

Thus I am very proud to release “How The GOAT Was Built: 6 Life Lessons From the 1996 Chicago Bulls.”

READ AND DOWNLOAD THE PDF VERSION: How the GOAT was built — by Jack M Silverstein

For an iBooks copy for your phone, email readjack.com@gmail.com.

More e-book options to come.

To read the six lessons without the prologue or epilogue, (but with lots and lots of video!), click the links below: Read More

“My coach is everything” — Phil Jackson’s influence on the 1996 Chicago Bulls

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Excerpt from “How The GOAT Was Built: Six Life Lessons From the 1996 Chicago Bulls

Lesson #6: Find a coach who will help you be your best self

by Jack M Silverstein (@readjack)

In the summer of 1996, after winning his fourth championship, Michael Jordan came within 30 minutes of signing with the New York Knicks.

“New York was right downstairs,” Jordan told Spike Lee in “Best Seat In the House.” “The Bulls — all they had to do was mess up.”

The Knicks had an offer on the table for Jordan: one year, $25 million. “We told (Jordan’s team) they could have all our cap room,” Madison Square Garden President Dave Checketts said at the time.

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Could Michael Jordan have joined the Knicks? According to the man himself, it almost happened in 1996. (Photo illustration by Patrick Ortega, found at ballislife.com)

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Chris Dudley, Horace Grant, and the strangest “What If?” of the 1996 Chicago Bulls

Lesson 5

Excerpt from “How The GOAT Was Built: Six Life Lessons From the 1996 Chicago Bulls

Lesson #5: Don’t panic — that bad break today might be the luck you need tomorrow

by Jack M Silverstein (@readjack)

I believe in the planning and principles behind the ‘96 Bulls and the whole second three-peat. A lot of sound reasoning went into those teams. But that doesn’t mean there wasn’t any luck.

As I researched this team, I had fun diving into history’s wrinkles — those mostly forgotten sharp left turns our memories ironed into straightaways. The lesson: like the parable of the Chinese farmer, you truly never know if an event will end up being good luck or bad, so plan the best you can, react pragmatically, and move on.

And with that, here are my two favorite “what if?” moments of the 1996 Bulls — they’re related.

What if Chris Dudley didn’t sign with the Trail Blazers in 1993?

I know what you’re thinking: What the hell does Chris Dudley joining Portland in 1993 have to do with the ‘96 Bulls? If I hadn’t come across this arcane bit of history I would be asking the exact same question. Read More